Patrice Bergeron gave it everything he could.
The Bruins two-way center was taking it the hardest of almost anybody as he stood and discussed the season being over after the Bruins had dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Washington Capitals, and perhaps with good reason. Bergeron played through nagging injuries during the year including a slapper off the knee in a road game against the Penguins that couldnt even knock him out for a game and had a final upper-body issue that nagged at him in the final two plus games of Bostons first round defeat against the Caps.
Bergeron didnt want to discuss the specifics of the injury in the postgame locker room, and instead wanted to work through the emotions of loss, despair and emptiness that always arrive for the Bs assistant captain. He made it through 19:53 of ice time and a couple of shots on net along with another successful face-off, but it was more readily apparent in Game 7 that the injury was affecting him as he uncharacteristically lost one-on-one battles all over the ice thats usually his domain.
I dont want to use that tonight. Ill let you guys know. I dont want to talk about it right now if you guys dont mind, said Bergeron. Obviously on the checkout day on Friday Ill let you guys know.
It was a little better but not much better. Like I said I dont want to use that as an excuse right now. Its a tough one to swallow and I really dont want to put that on an injury. Im not the only one that goes through that stuff.
In the cruel twist of fate from the hockey gods, they saw fit to hand a weakened Bergeron the chance to win it right out of overtime. Dennis Seidenberg rifled a shot that hand-cuffed Braden Holtby before it bounced to Bergeron crashing the net just 45 seconds into the overtime session.
The puck was bouncing wildly in front of the Bs center masquerading as a right wing due to injury, and he tried to corral as best he could wincing all the way. Instead Bergeron wobbled a shot wide of the largely-vacant net to the left side and the TD Garden fans groaned knowing that theyd frittered away a golden scoring opportunity in the extra session.
It kind of exploded just rolled on my stick and the puck was bouncing, said Bergeron. I just tried to go quick because obviously there wasnt a lot of time and the puck wouldnt settle.
You look at all the overtime goals in this series, its always like that. Its a tough break or a lucky bounce and the other team doesnt get that. I think thats what it is. It was overtime and its one shot.
In the end Bergeron was just another member of the Bruins that was banged up and less than 100 percent of himself at the end of a long, challenging season for the reigning Stanley Cup champs. But No. 37 can hold his head high that he answered the bell at every turn even when things got tough and more than a little wince-worthy this season.